Re: Property and the Law, and is it a priority?

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Thu Aug 02 2001 - 09:49:27 MDT

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Technotranscendence wrote:
> On Tuesday, July 31, 2001 7:59 AM Mike Lorrey wrote:
> > Actually, it is totally libertarian to pay such taxes, but only if they
> > properly reflect the externalities created by use of said items.
> > Refusing to pay your externalities is not libertarian, and IS imposing
> > force on others.
> It would remain to be proven that such taxes actually reflect externalities.
> But even so, the libertarian way of dealing with externalities is through
> property rights and voluntary agreement -- not through taxes. See, e.g.,
> Roy Cordato's _Welfare Economics and Externalities in an Open Ended
> Universe_ and Robert Ellickson's _Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle
> Disputes_.

Ultimately, in the anarcho-capitalist end of the libertarian spectrum,
you would be correct. However, the only recognizable difference between
a libertarian government and a libertarian ungoverned territory is that
you will have to deal with various insurance providers who will mitigate
this, i.e. only a difference of monopoly versus free market providers of
externalities mitigation.

> (Note for those who don't know what externalities are: They are costs or
> benefits passed on to others without their consent. Usually, the ones of
> interest are negative externalities -- i.e., costs passed onto to other
> without their consent. An example is air pollution. People usually don't
> complain about positive externalities. An example is someone beautifying
> their property. This might provide benefits to his or her neighbors -- in
> terms of property value increase, a more esthetically pleasing neighborhood,
> and the like.)

In a libertarian context, if, for example, I improve my property, I
could go to each of my neighbors that would benefit from my
improvements, and say: "either pay your share of the value of my
improvement, or sign this waiver of your right to litigate against my
improvements, or we go to court" (obviously in a more polite manner than

> >>> A libertarian government properly focuses its revinue gathering on use
> >>> based taxation, while fascist governments focus on confiscatory
> >>> taxation.
> >>
> >> A libertarian government would not be able to tax period. It might be
> able
> >> to charge user fees, but these would be for services the government
> actually
> >> delivers. A government doesn't deliver a service by forcing people to
> pay a
> >> tax. This would include registration fees. What if I don't want to
> >> register? (A libertarian government might disavow protecting, say, my
> car
> >> against theft or vandalism if I don't register it, but it would not be
> able
> >> to use force to make me register.)
> >
> > A libertarian government would impose taxes to account for
> > externalities, and would properly funnel those externality fees to
> > mitigate the damage created by those externalities.
> This claim needs a lot more justification than that. How would a government
> find out what really were externalities? (Would it be able to determine
> this any better than the market? If so, how? If it could do this, I
> submit, it would be a case for socialism. Not that that's bad in itself,
> but it makes me think it's not possible.) How would it find out their exact
> amount? (If it charged more, it would be aggressing. If it charged less,
> then, by your standards, it would be allowing aggression.)

Well, for example, gasoline makers/sellers would have to pay the cost of
CO2 mitigation, which they could pass on to their customers however they

a) flat rate per gallon
b) graduated amount based on the vehicles own consumption and emissions

Similarly, roads could all be privatized today with remote smartcard
technology paying tolls to road owners remotely, or simply collected by
an autoclub / road cooperative based on the vehicle's milage. Vehicles
which do not provide milage data or billing information get stopped by
private cops until they provide a billing address and/or insurance
provider that checks out, and failure to pay results in vehicle

Remember, libertarians society DOES NOT lack coersion, it simply applies
coersion to those who attempt to initiate it themselves. Self defense is
justified in all situations.

> Even if it could overcome these very real knowledge problems, would its
> incentives be in the direction of actually limiting itself to this and only
> this?

We obviously cannot hash all of these things out here. Considering the
level to which insurance providers already deal with these sorts of
problems day in and out, I don't think this would be all that difficult.

> >> That said, your semilibertarian -- and it is that: only partly
> >> libertarian -- government might be better than what we have now in any
> place
> >> on Earth, but it falls short of the principles you claim to be upholding.
> >> It mgiht be a good interim setup, between today's welfare state and
> >> tomorrow's libertarian society, but it should not be the goal.
> >
> > SOrry, a society that does not create some means of properly mitigating
> > externalities is not, and cannot hope to be in any way, libertarian.
> The proper way of mitigating _negative_ externalities is through defining
> property rights and through voluntary agreements. E.g., if my next door
> neighbor decides to throw a party that will interfere with my sleep, he and
> I can come to an understanding that I'll have some warning and maybe that
> the music won't go past midnight. (Or he might invite me over. Not all
> problems are so easily solved, but force should not be the first line of
> problem solving in these cases.)

Of course, but this assumes the individual has all voluntary agreements
ironed out ahead of time, or has the concientiousness to do so through
their PPL. When individuals go around blithely acting without such
agreements set, they need to either provide a means to come to an
agreement, or else deal with force acting in self defense against their
own initiation of force, imposing externalities on people.

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